Dearest Bethany,

Three years to the day now since you left us. Much has happened in Kirkwall since that trip into the deeps, but I will not bore you with the details. They say that the Maker sees all and if you are at his side, I can only imagine that you've been watching over us with some amusement. Foolish perhaps, but it helps to remember you this way. I can only hope I will not be too great a disappointment.

Tensions throughout the city are escalating. I would even venture to say that they are worse now than they were before. The mages and the templars remain at each other's throats, but there is an unease to the balance, a prickling sense that it will not last. You always joked that I might, in fact, have a bit of magic in me. That these "feelings" were premonitions of a sort. I feared those words more than I ever admitted.

Perhaps that is why I am writing to you now; perhaps I seek to apologize for actions that I have yet to undertake. Our life has never been an easy one. Peasants, fugitives and refugees we were, forced to run, to hide, never knowing when the world might be ripped from our grasp. I said that I did not blame you, but I think that you knew better. You and Father were not given a choice in being what you are; that burden fell to those of us tasked with protecting you.

It has been a difficult failure to live with. All those years of running, and for what? I remember what happened to Ser Wesley, that even a templar was not strong enough to stand against the taint. But I still cannot help but wonder... would you have been so susceptible if you were not a mage? Was it this again that had taken so much and then took everything?

The memory of that expedition still stirs the taste of ash, but I have used the proceeds to repurchase the estate in Hightown for Mother. I wish that I could say this without pride, but I fear that in some small part this is not the case. We had wondered together what would have happened had Mother remained in Kirkwall, had she not fled and bound herself to an apostate. Something of that life has been returned to her, at least. She has summoned so much strength these past three years, strength for both you and Carver. She tries to move on but I cannot help but wonder - here, in this place – that if this is the way her life should have been, will it be as though you never were?

I promise you, Bethany, that I will not let this happen. But beyond these walls, things are stirring. You must understand that I protected you for so long because you were my sister. I did not truly blame you, nor even Father. Distrust and suspicion of mages have been with us since ages past, but more and more I see now that they have earned this fear. It is their fault that we were hunted – the blood mages and the summoners of demons – and their numbers seem to be swelling beyond control. Without you at my side, I truly do not know which way I will turn, if I can overlook the danger that we are faced with now. I no longer have a reason to love them, but ever more reason to fear them still.

I spoke with Anders today. He had asked to see with me; he'd remembered your anniversary and wished to express his condolences. It was an awkward moment, more so than usual. Not two days ago he nearly killed a woman. I was able to talk him – it – down, but I fear that he is losing control.

And yet there are stranger things. I remember that you once said that he reminded you of Father, the way that you would laugh at his jokes and smile from the corner of your eye when you thought that he was not looking. Perhaps it was merely this or the knowledge that, had I but taken him into the deeps in your place, I would still have my sister. I honestly cannot say.

I slept with him, Bethany. And afterward I was cruel, so very cruel. If this would have hurt you, I apologize, but I cannot bring myself to feel the guilt that I know I should. I know, too, that I have written before of Fenris. Even my heart lies elsewhere, but I find myself turning instead to embrace that which I hate. So hard we have fought to escape the life of the hunted apostate and I find my mind straying even now, wondering at a future that I never wanted, at a future that cannot be.

Perhaps this is a confession after all. But you should know that it is a life without you that I fear the most. Without you here to temper me, how can I hope to temper another? Something is coming and I wonder if you aren't the better for not being here to see it.

Yet, as always, thoughts of you comfort me. You are a help still, a light in the darkness in more ways than you know. I will write again next year.

Yours in love and death,